San Franciscans have been losing their patience with robotaxis. Despite the city being the tech capital of the U.S., the rapid expansion of automated driving has rubbed residents the wrong way, especially after the driverless cars have caused traffic jams throughout the city and even delayed first responders during emergencies.
Over the weekend, someone finally snapped. A person, dressed in all-black clothes and armed with a handheld tool, took out their frustration on a Cruise robotaxi.
Police were called to the scene late Saturday night after reports that a vehicle was being vandalized, per CBS News. Officers found a Chevy Bolt owned by Cruise stationary in an intersection, its panels dented, windshield cracked, and front end tagged with graffiti. Someone had ravaged it.
As it turns out, the attack was caught on video. The clip was posted to Instagram by Catery Villela and subsequently shared to X (formerly Twitter). In the video, the attacker can be seen wielding what looks like a hammer or small pickaxe. The vandal approaches the Bolt, which was stopped in an empty crosswalk, then begins to smash the car's body panels, windshield, cameras, and uber-expensive lidar sensors. The filming stops short, but the individual reportedly fled before police arrived, leaving only the damaged car behind.
This video appears to be the first actual documented vandalism that caused significant damage to an autonomous vehicle in San Francisco. While protestors have picketed at Cruise's headquarters and halted cars by placing cones on their hood, none have been caught on video actually damaging the cars—until now, that is.
Cruise acknowledged the attack on its vehicle in a statement:
"We are deeply troubled by the behavior displayed by the individual. While there was no one in the vehicle at the time, our priority is to operate safely under all conditions," said a Cruise spokesperson in a statement to CBS. "We have reported the incident to law enforcement and hope they are able to identify those responsible and hold them accountable."
At the time of writing, police are investigating, but have yet to arrest anyone for the vandalism. Additionally, the vandal's motives are unknown—though considering the animosity towards robotaxis, one could infer that the person isn't exactly thrilled with the problems presented by Cruise and Waymo as of late.
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